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or possession, is frequently applied to distinguish the individuals mentioned in the charters : as Leofwine Ealdorman, Sweigen Scyldwirtha, Eadwig, his mæg, Ægelpig munuc, Osword preost, Leowine se Canon, Heording gerefa, and such like. 17 But although it is certain that such additional appellations were occasionally used by the AngloSaxons, yet they appear to have been but personal distinctions, and not to have been appropriated by them as family names, in the manner of surnames with us.
In the progress of civilisation, the convenience of a permanent family denomination was so generally felt as to occasion the adoption of the custom. It is probable that the first permanent surnames were the appellations of the places of birth, or residence, of a favourite ancestor. To these, the caprice of individual choice or popular fancy, the hereditary pursuit of peculiar trades, and the continued possession of certain offices, added many others, especially in towns. But this custom of appropriating a permanent appellation to particular families, became established in the period which succeeded the Norman conquest.
the ordination in Exodus, that the first-born should be considered as consecrated to God. Exod. xiii. 2.; nor that promise of the Messiah descending from Abraham, which gave such importance among all his posterity, and, therefore, among its Arabian branch, to the eldest or first-born son. Primogeniture, as a principle or revered feeling of the mind, may in this view be supposed to have come to us from the east, with the earliest migration of our forefathers from it.
17 See Hickes's Dissert. Epist. p. 22–25.
18 And yet one Saxon MS. seems to express an actual surname, Hatte. Thus, “Hwita Hattewas a keeper of bees in Hæthfelda; and Tate Hatte, his daughter, was the mother of Wulfsige, the shooter : and Lulle Hatte, the sister of Wulfsige, Hehstan had for his wife in Wealadene. Wifus, and Dunne, and Seoloce, were born in Hæthfelda.
“ Duding Hatte, the son of Wifus, is settled at Wealadene ; and
The power of the Anglo-Saxon parent over his child was limited; or at least the clergy, as soon as Christianity was introduced, began to confine it. Theodore, the second archbishop of Canterbury, in 668, allowed that a father, if compelled by necessity, might deliver up his son to a state of servitude, that is, slavery, without the child's consent. But he declared that a boy of fifteen might make himself a monk, and a girl of sixteen or seventeen might choose a religious life. Up to the age of fifteen the father might marry his daughter as he pleased; but after fifteen, he was forbidden to dispose of her against her will. 19
Ceolmund Hatte, the son of Dunne, is also settled there; and Ætheleah Hatte, the son of Seoloce, is also there; and Tate Hatte, the sister of Cenwald, Mæg hath for his wife at Weligan; and Ealdelm, the son of Herethrythe, married the daughter of Tate. Werlaf Hatte, the father of Werstan, was the rightful possessor of Hæthfelda," &c. Cott. MS. Tib. B. 6.— The above is a literal translation.
19 Cæpitula Theodore ap. D'Acheri Spicel. vol. i. p. 489.
BOOK We cannot detail the particular course of edu
cation by which the Anglo-Saxons conducted their children to maturity, but some information may be gleaned. Their society was divided into two orders of men, laymen and ecclesiastics. Among the latter as much provision was made for intellectual improvement, as the general darkness of the period would allow. The laity were more contented with ignorance; and neglecting the mind, of whose powers and nature they knew nothing, they laboured to increase the hardihood and agility of the body, and the intrepidity, perhaps the fierceness, of the spirit.
Some men, rising above the level of their age, endeavoured to recommend the use of schools. Thus Sigebert, in the seventh century, having enlarged his mind during his exile in France, as soon as he regained the East Anglian throne, established a school in his dominions for youth to be instructed in learning. So we find in Alfred's time, and under his improving auspices, most of the noble, and many of the inferior orders, were put under the care of masters, with whom they learnt both Latin and Saxon books, and also writing, that “ before they cultivated the arts adapted to manly strength, like hunting, and such others as suited
the noble, they might make themselves acquainted CHAP. with liberal knowlege.” Hence Edward and Ælfthrythe are stated by Asser to have studiously learnt Psalms and Saxon books, and chiefly Saxon poetry. But among the laity, these were transient gleams of intellectual sunshine, neither general nor permanent.
The great and powerful undervalued knowlege; hence Alfred's brothers did not offer to attain the faculty of reading which he was tempted to acquire. Hence, even kings state in their charters, that they signed with the cross, because they were unable to write*; and hence so many of Alfred's earls, gerefas, and thegns, who had been illiterate all their lives, were compelled by his wise severity to learn in their mature age, that they might not discharge their duties with such shameful insufficiency. It is mentioned on this occasion, that those who from age or want of capacity could not learn to read themselves, were obliged to have their son, kinsman, or, if they had none, one of their servants, taught, that they might at least be read to, and be rescued from the total ignorance with which they had so long been satisfied. Asser expresses the great lamentations of these well-born, but untaught men, that they had not studied such things in their youth.5 Nothing can more strongly display the general want of even that degree of education which our poorest charity-children receive, than these circumstances,
4 In a MS. charter of Wihtred, in the possession of the late Mr. Astle, to the king's mark was added, “ ad cujus confirmationem pro ignorantia literarum."
The clergy were the preceptors of those who sought to learn ; and though Alfred tells us how few even of these could read, yet our history of the Anglo-Saxon literature will show some very brilliant exceptions. Such as they were, however, to them the moral and intellectual education of the age was entrusted. Thus Aldhem's father, a prince, put him under the tuition of the Abbot Adrian. Thus the Irish monk Maildulf, who settled at Malmsbury, and was well skilled in Greek and Latin, took scholars to earn subsistence.” From a passage in the biographer of Wilfrid, we learn that children, who afterwards pursued the paths of ambition, received, in the first part of their lives, instruction from ecclesiastics. He says of Wilfrid, a bishop in the eighth century, “Princes and noblemen sent their children to him to be brought up, that they might be dedicated to God, if they should choose it, or that, when full grown, he might present them in armour to the king, if they preferred it.”
When they reached the age of fourteen, the aspiring, or the better conditioned, prepared themselves for arms. It was after completing his thirteenth year that Wilfrid, who had not then decided on a religious life, began to think of quitting the paternal roof. He obtained such arms, horses, and garments for himself and his boys, as were necessary to enable him to present himself to the royal notice. With these he travelled till he reached the queen of the province. He met there some of the nobles at her court, whom he had attended at his father's house. They praised him, and intro
6 Malmsb. 5 Gale, 338.
8 Eddius, p. 62.